Early Morning Game Drive.

One of my many favorite experiences on Safari is an early morning game drive. Your guide will usually ask you if you are up for a 6:00 – 6:30 am start. Say yes most of the time! That means, early morning wake-up call.

What is a wake-up call on Safari?

The time your lodge staff cheerfully wakes you up with a ‘habari za asubuhi – good morning’ but they also bring you coffee/tea and cookies. Ah, the little things in life.

I usually ask for a 5:00 am wake-up call. The reason is that besides them coming outside your tent and waking you up cheerfully, it is a pleasure to sit outside your tent and enjoy your hot coffee/tea listening to the early morning bird calls. Sometimes you have other animals joining the wake-up call. The hyenas, roaring lion or the wildebeest grunting.

Totally makes getting up early on your holiday worth it!

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Early morning light in Northern Serengeti [June 2014]

And then you head out with your guide who should be waiting for you at the lounge area. You will be in an open vehicle or closed depending on where you are on your Safari journey.

As you are bumping along the wilderness in semi-darkness, tada, you see the sun creeping up, about to light up the amazing land. Oh that glorious moment that awakens your senses. You see things clearly. The wildebeests, the hidden elephant, the birds, the flowers, all ready to be captured in your soul. For photographers both professional and amateur, that sun flare.

These are the moments that will become your memory makers. The luxury of experience. And it’s just the beginning of your day. You must stop and enjoy more coffee/tea with breakfast in silence and in awe. You are on Safari!

Captured by our partners Nomad Tanzania.

These moments await you. We can be your guides.

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Get in touch via email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your early morning Safari for the memory books. Life worth Exploring. ™

 

 

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The wildebeest and zebra migration pattern

One of the biggest draw to the wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park in Northern Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya is the wildebeest and zebra migration. The 1.5 million wildebeest and 0.5 zebra strong herbivore team, and its many herbivore and carnivore co-dependants, are constantly roaming this expansive area. The phenomenon is one of the Natural Wonders of the World. An experience that must be witnessed first hand as words alone can’t justify this wonder.

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The large herds are constantly moving this approximately 7,000 sq. miles area in search of fresh food and water.

They will feast on the nutritious mineral-rich grass of the Southern Serengeti during birthing time. With lots of calves, the cats have easy target. They sustain themselves on the long grass of Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara after rutting in Western Serengeti. And pass through Central and Eastern Serengeti / Loliondo area when heading back to Southern Serengeti. While on the move, you may be lucky and witness the Grumeti River crossing in Western Serengeti  and Mara River crossing in Northern Serengeti. That is bonus.

Quick guidelines ::

– November to December // short rain season.
Sporadic showers will not hinder your Safari. The wildebeest and zebra migration are heading to Southern Serengeti from Northern Serengeti. They are moving down via east of Serengeti in the Loliondo area and the many private concession areas. During this time, it is best to hedge your bets and stay in two regions of Serengeti.

– January to March // hot.
Birthing season for the wildebeest and zebra. The place to be is Southern Serengeti to Loliondo and the many private concessions areas. The herds will also spill over to Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
A good time to enjoy lots of hunts as cats come out to play with lots of young calves around.

– April to May // long rain season.
Showers can last a few hours but when it clears, fresh skies. If you don’t mind being adventurous this is a great time to visit and get some amazing deals on lodges. Central Serengeti to Western Serengeti is the place to be.

– June to July // cooler months.
June is green after the rains. Enjoy the wild flowers. Migratory animals are roaming from Central to Western Serengeti on their way to Northern Serengeti. During this time, the herds may be crossing the Grumeti River to get to Northern Serengeti or may already be in this area. Grumeti River is home to large crocodiles. Areas outside western Serengeti are also prime viewing spots.

– August to October // cool and dry season.
The Wildebeest and Zebra population are usually in the long lush grass of Masai Mara and Northern Serengeti. They are in this region for a few month enjoying vegetation that long rains of April May brought about. The herds are going back and forth between Tanzania and Kenya and increasing the odds of seeing a lovely Mara River crossing.

sunrise_migrationPlanning a Safari to Serengeti?
The wildebeest and zebra herd of a million plus are always moving. The thing to remember is getting to the right place, right lodge at the right time.  

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Get in touch via email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your family Safari for the memory books. Life worth Exploring. ™

Kwihala Camp in Ruaha.

I can see you spending many nights in Kwihala Camp, a luxury tented lodge in wild Ruaha National Park. Many nights you say? First, you need at least 3 days to explore this stunning National Park.  Trust me, you will thank me. Then, you have this lovely little camp where you can completely unwind after not only game driving but also daily walking Safaris and night game drives. So yes, many nights!

As common with most Asilia Africa Lodges, on arrival you have the host welcoming you at the entrance with a refreshing drink and cold towel to wipe off the dust. My host for Kwihala was Sandy who is originally from Zimbabwe.

lounge_teaNext stop, the lounge area where I met up with my client Sally. Sally had been on two previous Safari and she joined my on her third Safari. After the many phone calls and emails we had exchanged, it was great sitting down with her face to face, sipping Tanzanian tea and enjoying freshly baked cookies. dining

I felt privileged to be in vast Ruaha National Park, with Sally, a client who trusts me in planning her many Safaris to Tanzania, about to head out on an evening Safari in amazing Africa.

sally_lorenzo_leverdIn comes professional guide Lorenzo Rossi. I was really excited to meet him as I had been following his work. He is one of the training experts in Tanzania as well as a skilled photographer. I also learnt he does not like to wear shoes. Well then. Leverd was learning the ropes of guiding.

Kwihala Camp has some of the best guides in the Safari business. From Pietro Luraschi, who has been published by Africa Geographic to Tony Reumerman. Guiding at it’s finest. 

tentThere are currently 8 rooms at Kwihala Camp.  The distance between the tents are well spaced out to give you bush privacy. Far away where you can’t hear the person snoring but close enough where a scream will not go unheard. Umh, try to keep in mind that geckos are your constant companions.

room_with_bathroomPower for charging your electronics is generated by solar panels. An electric fan is there to keep you cool during the hot months of October to February March. Walkie-talkie for the emergency calls which we hope never has to be used. Flashlight for the walks back and forth. If you need anything extra, just ask Sandy or any of the staff members and they will help.

bathroomThe beaded styled bathroom has all the amenities to make this a comfortable stay. Flush toilets, running sink water though conservation is always appreciated, bucket shower with enough water, soap, shampoo and conditioner and a cozy bathrobe to snuggle.

Evenings have to be by the campfire. That is where Sally and I were the first night with Lorenzo. Stories shared, wine had, owl call followed and spotted under the African skies.

dining_candlelight_1The second night after our afternoon walking Safari and night game drive, a delicious lantern-lite dinner await us on arrival. Banana stew [mtori], bbq ribs, rice pillau [rice with lots of spices], grilled fish, roast potatoes and more. Pure delight.

I look forward to returning to Kwihala Camp in wild Ruaha.

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Get in touch via email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com

Call us at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your family Safari for the memory books. Life worth Exploring. ™

 

 

Weaver birds.

weaver_birds_selousOn my walking Safari with guide Hierbert from lovely Beho Beho in Selous Game Reserve, I had a fun time watching these black-headed weaver birds building their nests.

What I learnt was that the males do all the building of the elaborate nest. They will be buzzing and squeaking for days going back and forth picking up small branches and grass in hopes that their fancy nest production will attract the female weaver birds. Hierbert said the males will go as far as bringing a colorful leaf or flower to primp up the nest. Quite chivalrous of the male weaver bird don’t you think?

Once the female ‘approves’ of the nest, her home for the near future, she will help with the final female touches. The nest have a small entrance are usually built high up on the tree or around the water source. This hopefully will prevent predators from entering the nest.

A fun half an hour or so watching these weavers on my walking Safari with Beho Beho in Selous Game Reserve.

On a walking Safari, it’s about the little things. 

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Get in touch with us via email at Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us on our Toll Free No. at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your family Safari for the memory books. Life worth Exploring. ™

Mama and Baby Elephant.

baby_sucklingWe had the pleasure of spending a nice long time with this large elephant herd in wild Ruaha National Park. The herd was about 30 elephants strong but the best part was seeing lots of young ones. The age ranged from a few months old to a few years old and all were under the watchful eye of the many female elephants. Even in the elephant kingdom, it takes a village to raise kids.

We saw the babies play with each other, babies becoming mischievous with each other and using their trunks to wrestle, who is stronger and who is going to run away when the tough get going. All of this play was conducted under the watchful eye of the mamas who were never far away from their young.

Then, one of my favorite moments happened. A baby elephant only a few months old came to his mama and enjoyed a special bond only a mama and baby can have. Feeding time!

And we were so close, we could hear the satisfaction smack after the meal. Priceless.

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Get in touch with us via email at Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us on our Toll Free No. at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your family Safari for the memory books.
Life worth Exploring. ™

 

5 unforgettable Safari experiences for Mothers.

mother's_dayBeing on a family Safari is a special time to make memories that you can remember forever. And who better than a mother, who loves getting everyone together, so that family stories are kept alive. Indulge mama on her Luxury Safari.

We know 5 experiences mommy would love on her Safari.

1] Let’s start with jewelry.
Mamas, we all like browsing, receiving and buying jewelry. On Safari, you will see lots of beautiful Maasai jewelry on display. So why not go straight to the source to see how it is done. Head to the Maasai village with our friend Tati of Tanzania Maasai Women Art Spend time with the Maasai women seeing how they use their beads to create unique jewelry piece. She will always have something to admire and reminisce.

The Maasai women get assistance designing these unique pieces from an Italian designer.  This relationship has helped the Maasai women gain financial independence and given us jewelry that we mother’s can enjoy. We love supporting other women.

2] A cooking class in the middle of Serengeti.
Chefs at many of the lodges will set up time to help mother’s cook up a feast. Of course she will have lots of help from the sous chefs and the kitchen staff  – she is on Safari after all. The chef will show off their talents in their kitchen. The chef will come up with a cooking plan that best suits mama and her cooking skills.

A gourmet meal is always on the menu on Safari.

3] How does date night sound on Safari!
Would mommy be traveling with young children? A big yes to bringing children on Safari. Babysitters are available!  The babysitter can play with the children in the room until you get back from your date-night dinner.

The goal here is for you to enjoy a delicious dinner with amazing wine under the African skies on your night out. Bliss on Safari.

4] A massage for mama.
Imagine coming back after your wildlife viewing to a soothing room, essential oils burning, and a massage. Don’t you feel your muscles relaxing already? Some of the lodges take you outside where nature gives you the music.

Get pampered on your Safari. Yes mom, you deserve it!

5] Fly high over Serengeti or Tarangire in a hot-air balloon.
Oh the little luxuries in life for the mother in your family. Soar over the African savannah and enjoy this special family moment in your own balloon basket. Upon landing, you will have a breakfast table set up in the middle of the park where you can toast with champagne bubbles and enjoy a delicious English breakfast under a tree.

A high flying family treasure to keep.

Add any of these fun memory keepers to your family Safari. Happiness is being on Safari.

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Get in touch with us via email at Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us on our Toll Free No. at 1.877.558.6288.

Together, we can plan your family Safari for the memory books. Life worth Exploring. ™

Ruaha National Park.

My first impression when I landed in Ruaha National Park in Southern Tanzania was … lush and cool. I had flown in from hot and dry Lake Natron. I was about to enjoy the ‘green’ season in Ruaha.

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Lovely Ruaha.

Ruaha National Park is the largest National Park in Tanzania. It is around 12,000 sq miles – larger than Serengeti National Park in Northern Tanzania.  Though quite vast, large parts of this park are not easily accessible due to a heavy Tsetse fly population.

impala_ladies

Impala ladies.

The good and bad of having Tsetse flies. The good is that is allows more land area for wildlife. The bad, we can’t enjoy spending time with wildlife without being bitten. As our guide Lorenzo from Kwihala Camp told us, there are so many part of the Ruaha that are lovely to explore, you don’t really miss going to those uncomfortable areas.

Although, Lorenzo’s secret fantasy is to find a potion that keeps TseTse flies away and then set up a lovely camp in that remote part of Ruaha.

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White headed Buffalo Weaver.

Ruaha, even though larger than Serengeti has fewer lodges. What does this mean for you visiting Ruaha? Fewer people on game drives. When we were here in the green season, we saw 1-2 cars the whole day. In the busier dry season, I am sure there would be more Safari vehicles enjoying this lovely park but you would still have a large area without bumping into too many vehicles.

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Mdonya River.

The areas where the few lodges have set up in Ruaha are close to the three huge rivers that run through this large National Park – the Mwagusi, Great Ruaha and Mdonya River.

These three rivers and it’s tributaries are the life line during the dry season which is usually from June to October. During this time, the elephants come here, dig on the water-bed and bring up the water that was filled here during the wet green season. This act of kindness also helps the other animals who depend on the  water ‘wells’ created.

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Elephant herd. A few babies in the group.

Our guides Lorenzo and Leverd told us that coming here in the dry season means you are bound to see large herd buffalos coming for a drink to the river. We are talking thousands and thousands buffalos. Lions are also easier to spot because the grass around here is not too tall during that time. Apparently, you don’t have to go far from the river to spot most wildlife.

Elephant herds large and small, well thankfully they can be spotted during both dry and wet season.

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The stare!

During the wet green season, while is usually from November to May, the short and the long rains disperses the wildlife population as water is present everywhere, gets the grass tall [we are talking 3-6 ft. high depending on the area] and the bushes thick which makes spotting wildlife a much more adventurous sport. There are hundreds of lions in Ruaha and yet when we saw this lovely male lion, it was a huge treat.

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Walking Safari.

Sally, my client who joined me on Safari and I also did a walking Safari in Ruaha, a bit tricky to do in the green season. Lorenzo went to scout an area for us with more open plains. Well, that was not possible. Even though the area seemed ‘open’ there is long grass and bushes.  This made for a hair-raising walk experience which Sally and I really enjoyed but you could tell Lorenzo and Chris, our ranger, were on high alert. You can not really see what is lurking behind the bush. Will give a detailed account of my Ruaha walking Safari like I did for my Serengeti walking Safari

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Giraffe under a large Baobab tree.

There is also a good distance between the few lodges built within this large National Park so each lodge usually gets its ‘own river’ to enjoy.  Sally and I stayed in Kwihala Camp, a Asilia property and ‘our’ river was the Mwagusi River.

red-Billed_ruaha_hornbill

Red-billed Ruaha Hornbill

Even though the wildlife spotted was fewer than what Lorenzo said we would spot during the dry season, the many many lovely butterflies and birds kept us busy and excited. Oh the lovely birds of Ruaha. From the local birds like the Red-billed Ruaha hornbill to the popular East African birds like the Lilac Breasted Roller to the birds that travel the distance – from Southern Africa and all the way to Europe. Just look up – or eye level – and get carried away with all the lovely birds.

butterfly

The small things.

For those of us who go on frequent Safaris, even the green ‘quiet’ season was special. Just to be out here, have the park to yourself and enjoy the ‘hunt’ of capturing a few wildlife, lots of birds, colorful flowers all the while enjoying the stunning landscape. This experience of my Ruaha Safari was refreshing.

Ruaha has captured my soul!

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Life worth Exploring. ™
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